Is sharing pictures of your children online irresponsible? Reckless? Disrespectful? Or are those accusations complete overreactions by parents who are control freaks?
My friend Lauren wrote a post last week entitled Should I Share My Kid’s Photos on Facebook? Because I know how private she is about sharing her (long awaited!) daughter’s image online, I knew without reading it that I would not be on the same page as her, but I was curious to learn more about her reasonings behind her feelings on this matter. As expected, I am about at opposite as you can get from her beliefs, though I do understand some of her hesitancy in regards to this subject. I just don’t agree with her on all of it.
To be clear – I truly feel that this issue is a parenting decision where there is not one right answer. I suppose some people who feel it’s a safety issue or a child’s privacy issue will argue that there is only one right way, but I’m here to say you’re wrong. HAHAHA. But seriously, you are. 😉 I do believe that different decisions are right for different families because of job considerations or comfort levels with the internet, but when it boils down to it, we all have to do what we believe is right for us – while respecting parents who feel differently on the subject.
For my family, I fully admit that I’m a little all over the board. My Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts are all locked down as private as they can be (though I post nothing I wouldn’t be comfortable with the world reading, because obviously that’s always a possibility with the internet!). However, I have my family blog and this blog out there for the world to see, and both of them are filled with pictures of my kids and stories about our lives as well.
I guess it comes down to the following beliefs for me:
- Re: Posting Embarrassing Childhood Photos: I 100% don’t believe that an embarrassing childhood photo will affect college and job prospects decades down the road, and I also don’t believe it will cause any lasting feelings of mortification for a teenager (any more than teenagers are already mortified by everything their parents do). However, I don’t post photos online that include my kids’ private parts, because why in the world would you? (And believe me, I have a lot of adorable photos of their naked selves running around!)
- Re: Facial Recognition Software: I have my FB settings such that my face is not suggested for tags, but at the same point, security cameras and facial recognition technology is everywhere, and I don’t really care. I have absolutely no idea how that technology will be used 20-30 years down the road, but I’m not going to be afraid of sharing pictures of my kids with family and friends because of it, because I really don’t think my actions will make a difference with the end result of this. Can you imagine if our parents had tried to worry about today’s technology problems back in the 80s? It would have been unfathomable and pointless because technology has changed SO MUCH in the past few decades. This is an issue I refuse to stress about for that very reason.
- Re: Sharing photos that include other people/their children: I always ask first, because (1) I will never post a picture of someone (or their kid) that they find unflattering, and (2) I get that not everyone is comfortable with having their pictures online and I respect that. I’m not sure how this will work as Stella grows up and has group pictures of dance recitals or rafting trips or whatever with friends, but we will cross that bridge when we get there. I’m also going to teach Stella to respect people’s privacy and to not post pictures of others without their permission.
- Re: Posting pictures that include personal information like addresses and last names: Um, I don’t do it. That’s common sense I would hope, right? Anyone who knows us knows where we live anyway, but there’s no need to make it easier for thieves to find us, right?
- Re: The thought that children should be able to choose their own digital footprint: There is such a glut of information online about almost everything now days that I honestly believe this will matter less and less to each generation. It will be NORMAL to them to have information about everyone accessible online, and it will be important for them all to be aware of the ramifications of what they share digitally with the world. At the same time, I don’t post our full names anywhere in my blogs in order to keep things somewhat less “googleable” on all of us. Also, as the kids get older, I will share less about their lives as the stories become less about my parenting experiences and more their stories to share.
So what do you think? Am I way off base? Is there a concern that I’ve completely forgotten to address?
Also, are you a picture lover and sharer like me?
Or do your beliefs align more closely with Lauren’s post on the subject?
One last (sort of related) note – I cannot stand when people use a picture of only their kid(s) as their profile picture on social media. I’m friends with you – not your kids – and for a multitude of reasons (including infertility PTSD & a desire to have Moms stay in the picture), it annoys me when you are nowhere to be seen in your own profile picture. I feel the same way about Christmas cards that have no mention or photo of the parent(s). Am I the only one who feels this way? I try to tell myself to get over it because obviously a lot of people are not bothered by it, but I really want to hear about your life and see YOU in the picture, too!